Clichy excited to reunite with Sagna
Gael Clichy says he is thrilled to be reunited with his France and former Arsenal teammate Bacary Sagna, and insists the move to sign the defender shows Manchester City do not have to spend a ton of money to add great players.
City's incumbent right-back Pablo Zabaleta has proven to be one of the Premier League's top players in his position, but it wasn't long ago that Arsene Wenger said the same about Sagna, who spent seven seasons at Arsenal.
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Clichy played at the Emirates with his countryman for four seasons from 2007-2011, and said on Friday that he was very happy to be reunited with his friend at City after Sagna signed in June.
"Well from my point of view it's great," Clichy said. "He's a very good friend of mine. I've played with him at Arsenal and the national team, but for the club I think it's a great signing.
"Going back, I think we have one of the best right-backs in the last five years since he joined Arsenal. He's strong, he's a great defender, he's good going forward. That's the kind the player you look for in the club, and he's old enough to bring some experience.
"I don't want to say too much because he's a good friend, but he's a great signing, and I'm sure the fans are waiting for him to put the shirt on."
Since the club's infusion of cash in 2008 from their billionaire new owners Abu Dhabi United Group -- backed by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan -- City have been prone to spend fortunes on transfer fees to acquire the players they want.
But with Financial Fair Play penalties bearing down, Sagna arrived on a free transfer after his contract with Arsenal ended this summer, and Clichy said that's proof that City can be just as savvy as clubs with smaller bank accounts.
"Of course he was on a free [transfer], so that's a big thing. To sign a player like him on a free is something amazing," Clichy said. "That shows everyone that City is not only a club who can spend money but who can make great deals."
Clichy was speaking from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where City are preparing to take on AC Milan in their first game in the International Champions Cup -- a preseason tournament with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Internazionale, AS Roma, Olympiakos and defending champions Real Madrid taking part.
The left-back said he noticed the increased attention football received in the United States during the World Cup and hopes that the preseason events can do more to increase the sport's profile in America.
"I think it's a great place. We know soccer has gotten bigger within the year, so we're glad to be part of this. As everyone knows, we have a new team in New York now which is beginning next year," said Clichy, referring to City's business ties to MLS expansion franchise. New York City FC.
"It's really good for the club to do something like this because we're used to the passion in England but coming here, seeing so far people supporting the club, is something amazing."
After Milan, City will face their Premier League title rivals from last season, Liverpool, and then Greek champions Olympiakos. If they win that "group stage," they will face the top team from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Roma for the title.
While City's primary focus will be on preparing for the upcoming season, Clichy said it's still important for City to try their best against other top clubs.
"It's a big competition," he said. "We have to gain our fitness back but also to win, because a club like City need to win. It's already been a great preseason and we're looking forward to the next few games."